Racing Rule E7, Penalties allows the protest committee considerable discretion in giving penalties for breaches of many rules. The IRSA Discretionary Penalty Guidelines are intended to assist protest committees in giving penalties that are consistent within an event and from one event to another. This is also helpful for competitors who can have some certainty as to the penalties that they may receive.

The guidelines are based on a tried and tested document used for several years by World Sailing International Juries.Using this document a protest committee may choose between 3 levels of penalty, which may be increased or deceased according to circumstances. The document also proposes a method for determining a penalty for an infringement that has not yet been listed.